I’ve reached the beloved and dreaded marathon taper. When I finished my 22 miler on Saturday I felt feelings of disbelief, exhilaration, relief, and dread. I couldn’t believe I had wrapped up my final peak week of training. I felt exhilarated that I had made it through 15 long weeks of training with only a few minor hiccups. I felt relieved that the longest and hardest part of training was over. I felt dread that I still had 3 weeks to go and an upcoming 40 mile week still to get through.
Tomorrow is October 1st and it will officially be marathon month. Friday is my last 4 am wake up call of training(!!!!). Saturday I will run my last double digit run before the race. Next week my mileage will drop significantly as I begin to really allow my body to heal from 16 weeks of training. Basically, I am starting to see the light at the end of the training tunnel.
Right now, I’m feeling ok. My weekday mileage is more of the same this week which I’m sure is helping as I’m not really in a true taper mode yet. I got word from my chiropractor on Monday that my legs were in good shape for having run 22 that weekend and 6 that morning. This hasn’t made me less antsy about possibly getting injured – we all know that walking the dogs seems to be when I’m most prone to injury! I’m hoping that being a morning runner will help with my taper crazies since my evenings are always open to do what I need or want.
I expected to go into this week a bit freaked out about my training (could’ve, would’ve, should’ve), but that phase seems to have passed me. I’ve decided that I am really happy with my training. I can only prepare so much for the unknown and I don’t feel there is anything more I could have done to prepare without risking injury or burn out. There were definitely mornings that I wanted to be lazy and stay in bed and catch some extra sleep, but I never felt tired of running. I actually feel that I have enjoyed running the most during the past 15ish weeks. After our brutal winter, summer didn’t feel that bad and I didn’t have to run on the treadmill at all this training cycle. I also think that switching to heart rate guided training made a huge difference in how I felt during my runs and how my body recovered.
I have been thinking about the race a lot this week. I’ll be heading to the start line with my training group, but ultimately beginning and running the race alone. I know it is going to be difficult in ways that I don’t yet know or understand which is the hardest for me to wrap my head around. I have a lot of very experienced marathoner friends that have been extremely supportive and insightful (big shout of joy to my good friend Nicole who got word today of making the cut for Boston!). I am also very relieved to have run the back half of the course twice during training runs so I know where I’m going and what to expect terrain-wise during the second half of the race. This has really brought me some peace of mind.
I am going to take in the few runs I have left and really try to enjoy them. Fall weather is here and I know once I recover from the marathon the morning temperatures will begin dropping into the 30s, so now is really prime running weather. It’s still crazy to me that I am finally nearing the end of my training journey and soon all that will be left of my first marathon journey is the 26.2 beast itself. I have made some great new friends (woop woop 10:30s!) and I am really proud of the work that I have put in – all of the early nights to bed, all of the early morning wake up calls, and all of the miles I have run. So for now I am fully embracing the marathon taper and taking in every moment by looking back on the journey and reminding myself how far I have come.